Friday, 22 March 2013

Take two and call me in the morning...

I mentioned, during my essay on why health and safety can sometimes be a bit of a lifesaver, about an incident I once attended in a hospital.

As I can't really think of anything spectacular to wow you with today, I should probably go into a bit more detail about this, and some other minor incidents that happened whilst I was working for the NHS.

Not to worry you or anything, but just to let you know, the vast majority of people who work in hospitals are normal human beings, not SuperHeroes, not Angels, they don't have magic powers and they often get tired and grumpy, just like everyone else - This is important, try not to forget it. Be nice to them, it's in your interests in the long run.

I used to work at a couple of large Hospitals in Worcestershire and I would do a lot of the 'Rapid response' stuff, you know, the sort of thing where people would have yelled 'Stat' at the end of every sentence if we'd been in America.

Once, there was a problem with an MRI scanner and of course, because it had cables connected to it, IT got called, and because it was medical equipment, I got the honour of trying to fix it. Once I'd found my way to the Medical Imaging department, I found a very red Sister and a flustered looking Nurse in the control room.

'Hey, I'm Dandy from IT, you've got a problem with the MRI?'

'Yes,' Growled the Sister, 'It seemed that the PC got disconnected.'

'Disconnected?' I asked, not really liking where this was going, 'How did it get disconnected?'

'Do you really need to know?' Replied the Sister shooting a look at the cowering Nurse that would have boiled a stoat, 'Or can you just (and she did the whole air-quotes thing here) Make It Work?'

'Well, I'm no expert, but I'll have a look at it for you... Can we not get the MRI people in?'

'They're expensive, but we can if we really have to.'

'Right...' It felt good to know that I was a valued member of the team, and not just the cheaper option.

The PC that displayed the MRI results was part of the desk, and to this day I've no idea of exactly what the nurse had done. but it looked like she'd maybe tried to move the whole desk and had panicked when everything went dark. I removed the panelling and went underneath... Have you ever seen the original Raiders of the Lost Ark? The bit where Indy lands in the pit and says 'Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?' Well, that's pretty much what the space under the desk looked like, cables everywhere, big ones, small ones (but strangely, none as big as my head) - All sharing one commonality... They were disconnected.

'Are all these cables for this MRI?' I asked,

'Don't know, does it matter?'

So I spent a while, figuring out stuff, identifying other stuff, getting shocks from things until I figured out that maybe only three or four cables were actually for this bit of kit, and everything else had just been left there from previous equipment.

I crawled out, hit the main power, and everything sprang into life... No-one was more suprised than I was. The nurse, still looking quite embarrased, did a few checks and confirmed that it was working.

'Can you hang around whilst we do the first patient? Just in case anything...'

'Sets on fire?' I suggested

The look she shot me let me know that perhaps I should keep my comedy to myself.

The patient was a little old lady, complete with 1940's tweed coat and a four-wheeled shopping buggy (which they convinced her that she'd have to leave outside the MRI chamber itself, as it had a metal frame, and they didn't want it flying around poltegeist style when the switched the multi-Tesla field on) and I went and got a coffee whilst they prepped the old lady.

I guess that might need some explaining, which will also make the rest of the story a little bit more understandable. MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Your body (not just yours, mine, the dog's, that girl whose backside you were staring at at the bus stop this morning) contains a lot of water, water contains Hydrogen molecules, the Hydrogen molecules contain little things called protons. Inside the donut of the MRI scanner is a bloody great electromagnet (about 750 times stronger than a fridge magnet) that they turn off and on really quickly and it makes these protons vibrate (or more correctly, resonate), then they take a picture. So you now understand why metal things behave oddly in a strong magnetic field. (Copyright - Explaining complicated things to people who really don't care - Chimping Dandy Books 2013)

By the time I'd got back, they were asking the spinster if she had any fillings or a false leg or anything to which she replied a resounding no.. Then they asked her if she was sure, which she was, and if she thought she might be pregnant. A question she treated with the contempt it deserved.

Finally they helped her onto the table and rolled her into the emitter. The nurse pressed some buttons, sighed, and rolled her back out again.

'Are you sure you aren't wearing any jewellery?'

'No dear.'

'Any piercings?'


'Not... erm... anywhere?'


The nurse went into the storecupboard and got out one of those 'wand' metal detectors that they use in court (or so I've been told *cough*) which she slowly moved around the old lady's body. When it got to her head, it beeped.

'You don't have a plate do you?'

'Pardon dear?'

'A plate, in your head, have you ever had surgery on your head?'

'Oh no, never,'

The nurse moved the wand again and it beeped by the lady's ear.

'What the?'

She looked closer and noticed a small bump on her ear, which she rubbed, and then gently scratched at, then she went to get some tweezers and some alchohol, and removed a small sleeper ear-ring... Which had been in her ear so long that the skin had grown over it, and the old lady had completely forgotten about it.

Ewwww... (The MRI scanner worked fine by the way, you don't need to worry)


The incident mentioned at the top of this post was at 'the other' hospital. We'd had a call about one of the PCs in one of the operating theatres being broken and needing to be fixed 'stat'. So I trudged halfway around the building, found the correct theatre, realised that it was 'in use', sighed, and pressed the buzzer.

An exasperated looking Nurse came to the door and said 'Yes?'

'I'm Dandy, from IT, come to look at the theatre PC, didn't realise that you were busy, shall I come back?'

'Don't know, wait there.' She turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again and rejoined her group. About five minutes later, the door opened again, this time it was a Consultant, a not particularly happy looking one from what I remember, with a PC on a trolley. He pushed the trolley towards me and said'

'Fix it, we need it!' Then he turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again, and rejoined his group.

I looked at the PC, turned it on, did a few checks, connected to the network, made sure they could get onto the Internet, saw the homepage was set to Google (This single fact alone sent a chill down my spine) and stood there looking at it... I couldn't see a single thing wrong with it, so I pressed the buzzer.

A different exasperated nurse came to the door and said 'Yes?'

'Hi, erm... I'm supposed to be fixing this PC?'


'Well, I can't see what's wrong with it,'

She rolled her eyes and said, 'Wait here, I'll check.' Then she turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again, and rejoined her group. After a few minutes, the first nurse appeared again.

'There's no sound!'


'There's no sound... The sound, it does not work.'

'The sound?'

'Yes, sound,' You know that look you reserve for when you tread, with bare feet, in dog poop that has worms in it? Well, that was how she was looking at me, 'Mr (insert Consultant's name here) doesn't work without music, no sound, no music, no surgery.'

I looked at her, she looked at me, I looked at the back of the PC, I looked at her, I held up the jack-plug coming from the back of the speakers, and plugged it into the back of the PC. There was a huge crackling noise, as it seemed the entire extent of their diagnostic process had been to turn the volume all the way up.

'Ta-dah!' I said, spreading my arms wide, 'That should work now.'

'Thank you,' whispered the nurse, begrudgingly, Then she turned around, closed the door, presumably scrubbed up again, and rejoined her group.

Remember where I said above that people who work in hospitals are normal human beings, not SuperHeroes, not Angels, they don't have magic powers and they often get tired and grumpy, just like everyone else?

Well, a few of them are right arseholes too... just like everyone else.

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